GDB 47.0: Spoiler?

The Oilers are in something of an interesting position tonight. If they win, they can put a serious crimp in the Minnesota Wild’s playoff ambitions, playing the role of late-season spoiler. However, they can only do so by damaging their draft position.

The Stakes

The three-team playoff race in the West is most likely to end with the Blue Jackets falling just short. With a win tonight, the Wild could guarantee themselves a playoff berth. However, should the Oilers win in regulation, the Wild’s playoff chances drop from 90.4 percent down to 71.3 percent, while the Blue Jackets’ chances jump from 30.8 percent to 44.3 percent.

Yesterday, we considered the Oilers’ draft position needs; four of the teams the Oilers are in competition with for the second overall spot were in action. Unfortunately for the Oilers, all four lost; only Carolina (overtime loss to the New York Rangers) picked up a point. The relevant standings are as follow:

A win would slide the Oilers from fifth down to seventh in the pre-lottery draft rankings, which would undo part of the one and only benefit from all of their recent losing.

Memory Lane

It isn’t exactly the same situation, but the dilemma reminds me a little of the one the Oilers faced in 2006-07. The team had spectacularly collapsed following the trade deadline move of Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders; in the 20 games leading up to the final contest of the year they failed to managed even one regulation win – they had two shootout victories and 18 regulation losses over that span.

But they managed to overcome a 2-0 deficit at the midway point of the game, scoring the next three goals and winning the contest on Patrick Thoresen’s third period tip-in. The win gave the Oilers 71 points, tying them with Chicago. The Oilers had the tie-breaker, though, so entering the draft lottery they held the sixth overall pick while Chicago had the fifth selection and the final one with a chance at first overall.

Chicago won the draft lottery, and ended up picking Patrick Kane first overall. The Oilers still ended up with a pretty good player – Sam Gagner – in the sixth overall spot, but it was a pivotal moment in the history of both franchises.

The Lineup

Via the Oilers’ official Twitter feed, here are the lines for tonight’s game:

  • Taylor Hall – Shawn Horcoff – Nail Yakupov
  • Magnus Paajarvi – Sam Gagner – Jordan Eberle
  • Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Anton Lander
  • Ryan Smyth – Jerred Smithson – Mike Brown
  • Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
  • Nick Schultz – Corey Potter
  • Mark Fistric – Justin Schultz
  • Nikolai Khabibulin

Quick Hits

  • Jason Gregor was supposed to write this piece. Apparently, he’s “too busy” with “raising money to fight Alzheimers” to fulfill his blog-writing responsibilities. I’ll let the readers decide where that rates on the jerk scale.

  • Jason was nice enough to pass along this encouraging statistic: “Backstrom is a perfect 17-0 at home vs. Oilers with a 1.34 GAA, a .948 save pct., and four shutouts. Wow.” He didn’t finish that comment with ‘have fun explaining why anybody should expect anything other than another humiliating Oilers loss’ but I think that was implied.
  • Taylor Hall would seem to have some chance at an extra $2 million in bonus money if he has a strong finish to the season.
  • The Justin Schultz/Nick Schultz pairing has gone minus-6 against the Wild this season; no other player on the team is worse than minus-3. Maybe it’s a good thing Krueger is splitting them up.
  • This might be the last game Nikolai Khabibulin ever plays for the Oilers, with Devan Dubnyk set to start tomorrow and Khabibulin’s contract expiring this summer.

Predictions

Game day prediction: The Oilers will lose a dull and one-sided game, falling by a 3-1 score.

Obvious game day prediction: The Oilers goal will be scored by Nail Yakupov, and after the game he’ll disappointedly say, “I don’t care about the goal, I just want to win.”

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: The Oilers’ second pairing will have a surprisingly good night, as Corey Potter plays well and Nick Schultz is much-improved when separated from Justin Schultz. Potter will pick up an assist on the Yakupov goal.

Recently around the Nation Network

  • Romanus

    Fellow OIL Fans: This team is half a season away from being done for a generation. Hall, Ebs, Shultz, Nuge et al if the team sucks next year(and a big part of it is on them to be better), after game 40: the “core” will have checked out, and there is no turning back: bye-bye rebuild and return to glory, hello 10 year perma-build

    • striatic

      a win puts Edmonton ahead of Calgary going into the last game of the season.

      draft positioning is important, but finishing ahead of Calgary is more important.

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            The “strong draft year” mantra is probably overstated – the top 10 are strong, but the consensus is the drop off is pretty steep – which is why second round picks were tossed around like confetti at the trade deadline.

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            Oilers have had 3 first picks in a row , I doubt many fans care that your drafting below the Oilers for once . Most are delighted . Another 3 Jankowski’s for Feaster , or is it Fester from the Adams Family ?

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            Yeah, that was brutal. Whiffed on the likes of P.K.Subban, David Perron, Wayne Simmonds. Still, in 2003, LA had 3 first round picks and ended up with Dustin Brown(good), Brian Boyle(now a depth dman with NY Rangers), and Jeff Tambelini(played 4 games for LA, now in Swiss league).Calgary, if they were drafting today, would pick 5th, 23rd, and 29th.My money is on one hit, one foul ball, and a swing and a miss.

  • DSF

    Did Oilers do the right thing by making the young stars first line to begin with ? Seems to me that’s putting them in over their heads , as results appear to bear out . I guess that’s how thin rest of squad is in their eyes . 5 on 5 , offensively and especially defencesively the youngsters are low in comparison to other teams first lines. It’ll get better no doubt , but this year the experiment just never bared the fruit expected. ,

  • DSF

    If they win the last 2, nobody involved on the team will sit around this summer and savour it. The only memory from this season will be the totality of all of the suck that happened. From all of Tambo’s inept moves (and lack thereof), Lowe’s buffoonery at the MacT coronation, and of course the Disaster on Ice that was the 2013 Oilers.

    Does anyone think winning that last game in Calgary was any great feat when it bumped us out of lottery land and allowed Chicago to finish 5th, win the lottery and draft Kane? That meaningless win changed the course of the recent history of both teams. We got the defensive sieve named Gagner that year.

    Great move to have Khabby in net tonight and inserting Jones and Belanger.

    Just lose 2 more, give MacT the high draft pick, and let’s start all over again this summer, and hopefully us oiler fans can be let off of this awful ride of gloomy misery soon.

  • Ducey

    Can’t think of one sorry ass’ed reason the Oilers would want to start winning now… they havnt in the last 10 games.

    Have no fear.. look at the track record between these two teams in MInny… not pretty!

    MacT get your draft shoes on or is it a tie.
    [ Tambelini might lend you his lucky one, he’s worn over the past three years. ]

  • Ducey

    Sorry Columbus, we would like to help but we are unable to do so. RK will have the Oilers in a defensive shell during the warmup. We will be lucky to get one tonght.

  • **

    I’m in the let’s win to spite Minnesota camp. We have the high-end pieces so I am not too worried about where we pick in the draft. Barkov would be nice but I would be fine with a Ristolainen or Monahan.

    Hoping to win and expecting to win are two different things though. This team hasn’t shown the courage to expect anything less than another lacklustre, boring hockey game tonight. 4-1 Wild.

  • Where's Your Towel

    That is the second Thoresen reference here on ON in 2 days (Lowetide 4th line article). I’m going to take that as a sign he returns to the Oilers for next season….

  • Where's Your Towel

    Forget (more) tanking. There’s a slim chance we finish ahead of Calgary.

    Making the playoffs this year was pretty unlikely all along. I just wanted to beat Calgary for a change.

    Please.

    I REFUSE TO “CHEER” FOR MORE LOSING.

  • Dallylamma

    With Zach Parise being the big money forward with the Wild now is there a possibility the they might listen to offers for Mikko Koivu?

    And if they did, what would the Oilers need to offer?

  • Dallylamma

    Had the Oilers lost that game to Calgary (in regulation) they would have been 4th with Washington 5th and Chicago 6th. If the lottery went to 5th in that situation we would’ve picked 5th and taken Gagner or Alzner, Washington would’ve picked first

    • GVBlackhawk

      Dear Mr. Willis,

      Can you please address this Jasmine character?

      As managing editor of Oilersnation, I feel that it is your responsibility to uphold a certain standard of commentary on the blog. The continuous detritus being spewed from the keyboard of this Jasmine character is beginning to sully the reputation of the entire site.

      His diatribe is nonsensical and is only meant to incite anger and insults. This kind of poster is best suited for the TSN comment section or Hockeybuzz.

      I fully support the idea of contrasting opinions. If he wants to defend Kevin Lowe or any other person, that is just fine. However, he crosses the line when he starts to make bold claims about Oilers fans’ actions. For example, in the past week alone, he has disparaged Oilers fans for preventing UFA signings, burning Chris Pronger’s baby’s crib, and running players, coaches, and managers out of Edmonton — all without giving one shred of evidence to support his statements.

      Enough already.

    • **

      Boo hoo…the poor poor hockey players and their hurt feelings. How can I look myself in the mirror for calling these guys out and their pathetic efforts?

      Your right, I guess it’s the fans fault why the Oilers suck. Not the players or Lowe’s fault. Not their fault at all. It’s all on us fans.

      Seriously, are these guys your heros or something?

      • Ducey

        Please be advised that Jasmine is really Kevin Lowe……….wasting time pretending to do something for the Oilers.

        Kevin…….I mean Jasmine has ruined this once proud franchise.

  • Truth

    I hope this game cements Khabi’s retirement plans. I hate to watch the Oilers lose (so I won’t) but they have to lose this one and the next. There is a legitimate shot at obtaining an excellent center for free.

  • Ducey

    •Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Anton Lander

    As a third line? Ouch. And Bulin in net? And Horcoff #1 C??

    That should secure the loss. Nice work RK.

    Go Wild!

  • I think there is a better chance we draft first overall 10 years in a row than beating the Wild tonight. Book a loss.

    I also have been “monitoring” things, and I think there is a decent chance the Oilers drop to 3rd last. A loss tonight and vs. Vancouver would help that. Nash has to get 1 point vs. Columbus (kind of unlikely, and Tampa has to be Florida (very likely).

    I would say it’s extremely likely we finish 4th last, and still fairly likely to finish 3rd last. Now the lotto might bump us back down, however… but hellloooo Barkov!

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          i hope it happens just so DSF disappears for a few weeks in hopes we all forget his “the wild are conference champion contenders” rant at the start of the season…..

          alas, i think the wild win and get 7th… ~7th is the same as conference champion contenders right~????

        • Ducey

          Who cares about Minny?

          Will that small feeling of being a spoiler still make you feel warm and fuzzy in 3 years when you see Barkov skating around for Calgary?